With SMI Philly based at my home church and neighborhood, I was able to offer a different perspective to the people we saw on the door-to-door medical outreach. I looked similar, spoke the same language, and was able to understand and relate with them when it came to common neighborhood issues. It was overall a very enriching experience, although at first, I did not really understand my true purpose in this mission field.
Wearing the scrubs amongst the people in my own neighborhood, with a backpack full of medical supplies and a stethoscope around my neck, I felt out of place. I was home, yet also at work, checking my neighbors blood pressures and glucose levels with the ultimate goal of sharing the love of Christ and the hope that He brings to our brokenness and emptiness. I had never done any kind of door-to-door outreach before, and to do it in my own neighborhood gave me a different perspective when looking at my neighbors. I had to question myself continuously of my true purpose in this mission field that was also my home. Could I not just live where I live and not bring my work into my place of comfort?
After each medical assessment, we gave an invitation to attend the church we were representing, if they were not already involved in another local church. When this occurred, I was able to emphasize that I lived right in the neighborhood and attend the church I was inviting them to. The reaction of one particular lady surprised me. When I gave her the flier that had my church information and expressed that I attend that church and live right around the corner, her eyes widened to the size of half dollars while pointing at me, you? Yes, me. It was surprising to her that one of these, quote on quote, evangelical medical missionaries could actually be one of her neighbors, one of her kind and not just an outsider like many others. She was predominantly Spanish speaking and I communicated that we offer Spanish translation at my church. Immediately she got up from her couch to grab a pen and write down my phone number to call me to pick her up to go church, because I am her people she expressed and she likes to socialize with her people.
The reaction of this lady, and many others, confirmed my role in the medical outreach opportunity I had participated in. Many felt more comfortable and at ease when they knew I was from the neighborhood and of similar ethnicity. I could literally see a sense of warmth and comfort come over them in their facial expressions and barriers between us and the patient immediately collapsed. God had given me this unique opportunity in my field of interest while also ministering where I live. It was His purpose to reflect Christs compassion through me and how He truly cares not only for the physical needs but also the spiritual needs of His people.
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